Iquique – surfer dude central

We’re booked onto the Inca Trail for the end of August so we’re in no real rush as we make our way up  Cusco. So after a few days in San Pedro we decide to stop off in Iquique, a seaside town in the north of Chile famed for its surf.

We’re staying at the Backpackers Hostel, mere metres from the beach. Although we arrive at the ungodly hour of 6am they let us check into our room early and catch up on some sleep. It’s actually one of the best places we’ve stayed at, with nice rooms (duvet, yay!), great common areas and one of the biggest and best equipped kitchens we’ve come across.

The beach from our hostel

There’s not a whole lot to do in Iquique unless you’re into surfing but it’s a pleasant enough place to chill out for a few days before heading across the border into Peru. The Georgian architecture is stunning, but in the off-season quietness it gives the place a certain surrealism– you almost feel like you are walking onto a film set, especially when the old tram rattles past you at a snail’s pace. On other streets, you feel more like you are in the Caribbean, with the brightly painted, ramshackle wooden houses. A bizarre mix of styles but somehow charming.

Cool Georgian buildings...
...and Caribbean shacks

After a wander through town and some delicious empanadas (corn and pesto, chorizo and cheese, chicken and vegetable, yum), we head back to the hostel for a lazy afternoon of blog writing and kindle reading followed by a barbecue organised by the hostel. It’s another chance for a delicious steak – we really must start eating healthily soon!

The next day is even lazier – Rich does some geeking, we watch some films. We’re working our way through the Swedish versions of The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo trilogy – not bad but some of the fight scenes are a bit amateur to say the least and the guy who plays Blomkvist is nowhere near as hot as Daniel Craig, so looking forward to the Hollywood version. Sorry, I digress. Back to Iquique.

Central plaza

That night we take advantage of the excellent kitchen and make ourselves dinner, nothing fancy, just some pasta, although we opt for pesto, as opposed to ketchup which we see one couple using as pasta sauce – I’m all for eating on a budget but that takes it a step too far in my book.

The following day and it’s back on a bus, heading up to Arica on the Chilean/Peruvian border, but not before we head down to the beach to check out a local body boarding competition. A couple of lazy days in a lovely hostel – if you’ve got time to kill you can while away a day or two but if you’re in a rush then don’t worry too much, you’re not missing a great deal.

Surfer dudes